“Are you really sure about this, Kurt?”
Kurt looked up from his daze. As the loft got barer and barer, being stripped of furniture and personal items he no longer wanted in his life- like the boy they belonged to- it was hard not to feel like he was stripping off pieces of his soul. He shook off the miserable thoughts and focused on the present, and the ugly old piano Sam and Elliott were currently about to carry away.
“I am sure,” Kurt said resolutely. “Blaine got it without asking me first and all it did was take up room and mess up my feng shui. He never learned how to properly tune it so the sound just got worse and worse- not that that stopped him from showboating every single party we had.” He paused. “Oh god, this piano was an omen for our relationship wasn’t it?”
“Don’t go overthinking it again, honey,” Elliott said in that gently mocking tone reserved for best friends. “I think what Sam meant is: are you sure you want to trash it? You could try ebay and make a few bucks.”
Kurt shook his head. “That thing is cursed, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Just take it away.”
“You’re the boss!” Sam said, and counted to three for Elliott to lift it with him.
As they slowly carried it towards the sliding door, Kurt felt lighter already. It disappeared from view behind Elliott's back, and Kurt let out a deep breath. Finally, the loft was his again. He already knew what to put in its place, too: that corner could be his new sewing desk. It had much better natural light and-
"Elliott, the right!"
"Can you grab it? My end is slipping-"
"No, it's too heavy, I- OH SHIT!"
Kurt's eyes went wide and he sprinted towards the door.
"Just drop it, it's not worth hurting yourself over!" he shouted, just as he saw Sam overbalance on the stairs and drop the piano from his hold.
It slipped, hit the first step, and then there was no stopping it- Elliott let go of his end and the ratty old piano crashed down the stairs, scattering pieces of wood along the way until coming to a stop at the first landing with a distorted keysmash sound, piano wires snapping. It sounded only marginally worse than when Blaine was playing it.
Kurt didn't care. He only had eyes for his friend. "Are you okay?" he asked, checking Sam over first.
"I'm fine, Kurt," Sam assured him, shaking out his leg. "Just misstepped and popped my ankle a little."
"Kurt...?" Elliott said, but he was still looking at Sam.
"Are you sure? I have ice packs in the freezer from stage combat training, I can get them-"
"Kurt, darling?" Elliott tried again, but Kurt did not look at him until he was sure Sam was okay.
"What?" he asked, immediately giving his other friend a once over for damage as well.
"Look at it," Elliott whispered urgently, and nodded at what was left of the piano. With a frown, Kurt turned around and looked.
From underneath the pile of splintered wood, letters spilled out over the landing. Sam gasped.
“It must have had a hidden panel!“ he let out. “Maybe there‘s treasure!“ He started down the stairs, popped ankle forgotten. Kurt and Elliott followed him.
Sam started lifting larger bits of the piano to look under them, but after a few moments, gave up. “Just letters,“ he said disappointedly. “Was worth a try though, right?“
Kurt reached the landing and picked up a letter. “It‘s addressed to me,“ he said, narrowing his eyes. He turned it around in his hands. It was opened, but he could not recall seeing it before. He slipped the letter out of its envelope.
“This is from that talent scout I sent an audition tape to!“ he let out. “They want to see me in person!“
“That‘s great!“ Elliott said.
“No, it isn‘t,“ Kurt replied. “This was sent 3 months ago.“ He let his hand with the letter drop. “I never got this.“
“Then who opened it?“ Sam asked.
“Who do you think?“ Elliott said angrily, and let out a groan of frustration. “I can‘t believe I didn‘t see through that little gelled fuck earlier. I’m so sorry, Kurt.“
Kurt let the anti-Blaine sentiments wash off his back. He was already kneeling between the pile of letters, looking at what else he had missed. There were letters from NYADA, a few job offers, information about open casting calls; a very cheap looking postcard from Sebastian Smythe addressed to Blaine (no doubt hidden between the stash for plausible deniability that they no longer had contact), and then-
“These are letters from Adam,“ Kurt whispered. There was a whole stack of them, dating back months. The most recent one was dated two weeks prior.
“Adam?“ Sam asked. “Who’s that?”
“They dated for a while when Kurt was new at NYADA, before he got back with Blaine,“ Elliott whispered, studying Kurt to gauge his expression. “Are you okay, honey?“
Kurt looked up at them, his face blank. “I don‘t know.” The letters in his hand weighed a ton.
“How about you take those letters inside and decide what you want to do with them. We’ll clean up here,” Elliott suggested. “Or do you want me to sit with you? Tell me what you need, please.”
Kurt closed his eyes tightly for a moment and counted down from ten in his mind before trusting his voice to speak.
“I need the past year to just go away,” he whispered. “I thought getting rid of Blaine’s furniture was the last of the damage control I had to do to close this ugly chapter of my life, but now there’s this.” He held up the letters.
Sam shrugged awkwardly. “You don’t have to read them, I guess,” he said. “If we hadn’t dropped this thing you never would have found out about any of it.”
“But you have, and I did,” Kurt said, straightening his shoulders and giving himself a stern nod. “And now I need to deal with it. I owe that to Adam… even if some of these letters may be full of anger at me for ghosting him.”
Elliott shook his head. “From what you’ve told me about him, I doubt that they are,” he said gently. “And even if so, there is a reason you broke off contact, and as I recall, the reason was Blaine throwing a tantrum about it.”
Kurt snorted. “Even though he did the same…”
He glanced at the postcard from Sebastian on the floor. It had an old school Chippendale picture on the front and a phone number on the back. No other text. Kurt really ought to sign that number up for several annoying telemarketing questionnaires. But that could come later.
“I think I will go through all of these now,” he said determinedly, more to himself than to his friends.
“Well, let us know if you need company-” Elliott offered.
“Or someone to kick Blaine’s ass,” Sam added. “I can’t believe I hung out with him in senior year. This is really a new low, even for him.”
Kurt nodded, feeling himself choking up again. Wordlessly, Elliott came up and hugged him tightly. Sam gathered up all the letters and mail that was still between the rubbish and waited for them to let go before handing it all to Kurt.
Back in his apartment, Kurt sorted through the mess. To procrastinate from reading Adam’s letters, he first made piles out of the rest of the mail. Some things he could discard: places he had only half-heartedly applied to, or invitations to events long passed. Other things he laid on a pile he mentally dubbed “apologies due”, and a small stack was for “grovelling''. Maybe, if he explained everything about his ex, they might consider giving him another chance. He knew not all employers and show business people could be like Isabelle, but he already had their “no” by not replying, and maybe absolute honesty could earn him a ‘maybe’ again.
He could not believe how Blaine had tanked his career on purpose like this, had isolated him from any opportunity to make something of himself. He didn’t just hide the letters- he read them, and then hid them, which was somehow even worse. He must have known exactly what he was doing.
When Kurt could put it off no longer, he sorted Adam’s letters by date, and started with the oldest one. He looked at the English stamp. He would have already enjoyed receiving this letter just for that, a piece of mail coming from the United Kingdom, home of the royals. And home of one recently graduated NYADA student with an expired visa and no real reason to stick around New York- not after Kurt announced his engagement to Blaine.
My dearest Kurt,
I thought long and hard about writing to you. You told me not to contact you again and I tried to respect that, but when I heard what happened and that you were in hospital-
Kurt breathed in sharply and raised his fingers to the side of his face. There was still a small scar there, a thin ridge on his cheekbone. He never regretted stepping into that fight, no matter what anyone said- scar or not, it had been worth it.
I just wanted you to know I am so sorry. I sent you flowers, I hope they arrived and gave you some joy.
Kurt frowned. Most of his hospital time was a blur due to his concussion. There had been flowers, but he had assumed they were from Blaine and his dad.
I sincerely wish I could have been there with you, for you, but I know you handled it heroically. You saved someone’s life, and even though it’s not my place to say that anymore, I cannot be prouder of you.
A tear ran down Kurt’s cheek. The first thing any of them did, including his dad, was telling him was how dangerous it had been what he did, how stupid, how irresponsible. Hearing this- even if it was months late- made his scars hurt a little less. He put the letter down and reached for the next.
Here I am again. I decided to send you another letter. You never responded to my first, but that’s alright. The way I see it, you can always toss these away unopened if you’re not up to it, and if you are, then I am lucky.
Autumn is in the air and I am thinking of New York. Fall colours, pumpkin spiced lattes. Going out in a winter jacket because it looks cold outside and then sweating my arse off. Going out in a t-shirt because it’s sunny and catching a cold. The season of pocket handkerchiefs.
To be honest, mostly I am thinking of you. NYADA will have ended its summer break, Madam Tibideaux’s fresh selection of new students have come in for Miss July to torment, and you have started a new semester. I hope you are doing well. Are you still at Vogue too? I always admired your ability to multitask. I can’t even find a single job here! Who would have thought having a degree in musical theatre wasn’t a direct ticket to being hired on the West End? Certainly not me...
Kurt’s lips curled up in a small smile. He could hear Adam’s self-deprecating humour through his written words. He had never met a NYADA student quite like him. All the others couldn’t wait to tell him how fantastic and successful they were, and how even a time without work was a ‘conscious choice’ or an ‘opportunity to grow through adversity’.
He finished the letter and reached for the next right away. It was a short note wishing him a happy Thanksgiving. The next one, well-wishes for upcoming exams. A Christmas card with a winter landscape bookmark inside as a small gift, and a note to wish him a happy New Year. Letter after letter, always kind, funny, sensitive.
There was never an unkind word about Kurt not responding. The way Adam wrote, it didn’t feel like a one-sided conversation at all. Kurt wondered if Adam was very lonely in England, despite his family living there. Why else would he hold on to him like this? His stomach dropped when he started the next letter.
Some sad news today. My mum’s very ill. Her Alzheimer’s had taken a turn for the worse and she had to move out of the house. We’re not sure how long she has left. I suppose you can’t expect parents to live forever, and yet somehow even as an adult, you somehow do, don’t you?
I wish I could say I have been a strong beacon of hope and courage to my family but the truth is my sisters have been picking up the slack because I’m a mess. I miss you, Kurt. I feel utterly selfish in writing this, but I wish I was back in New York with you, and not here in a waiting room of a nursing home. I’m sorry for putting this on you.
Kurt lowered the letter and gasped, tears stinging in his eyes. There was only one letter left, and he didn’t want to open it, afraid what it would say about Adam’s mother. Why did Blaine hide these from him? Was he really unable to let Kurt comfort a friend in need without having a jealous fit about it?
This will be my last letter, I promise. I have been thinking a lot about life and what I want from it lately. Things like illness call for that, I think.
Mum’s the same- it’s not gotten worse, but there’s no coming back from it either. She still enjoys simple things: music, sunshine through the window. She would have liked to hear you sing. Les Mis is her favourite. I wish I had recorded you back then at Midnight Madness. I guess I thought we would have more opportunities for that.
I need to change my life around and let go of the past, live in the present. That means letting go of you too, finally. I don’t even know if you still read these letters and it doesn’t matter. I wrote them to keep you close even though you were gone, and it’s time for me to face the facts. You’re an ocean away and with someone else.
Thank you for the time we shared, in life and on the page,
Tears dropped onto the paper before Kurt could stop them. Adam had needed him, reached out- and had given up on him while he had lived in ignorance, letters piling up inside the piano. And Blaine? He had known all along.
I may need to get back on Sam’s offer after all, Kurt thought grimly. But first, he had something more important to do.
He turned the last envelope for the return address. It was all he had to go by- Adam’s American phone number had long since been disconnected. Writing a letter back to explain everything and apologise would take too long...he had a flight to book. After all, the person holding him back was gone, and now all he had to do was cross the ocean.